This study focused on the examination of the knowledge, attitude and perception of respondent towards Lassa fever. The result of this study also revealed that after 48 years of the first case of LF in Nigeria, the knowledge and understanding of LF disease, transmission, prevalence and factors were poor amongst respondents. However, the respondents knew about some non-specific signs such as fever, malaise, headache, sore throat and vomiting. Poor knowledge has also been reported amongst health care workers. Some of the respondents only recently (2014 and 2015) heard about LF disease despite the fact that the disease has posed health challenge for so many years. Some respondents learned about LF from newspaper and current campus campaign on LF. This findings support the need for continuous campaigns and news items in the public media to sustain the dissemination of information on LF. Effective surveillance of LF could predict an outbreak and provide opportunity for massive public mobilization for ‘Health Action’, to break the chain of transmission of LF in the community. Improvement and upgrading of disease surveillance is key to prevention of future outbreaks not only of Lassa fever but other epidemics.
1.1 Background of Study
Lassa fever is one of the diseases for which weekly epidemiological reporting to the health authorities is being done in Nigeria. A rapidly changing epidemiological pattern had been reported over the years (Ogbu, Ajuluchukwu and Uneke, 2007). It causes mortality and morbidity where outbreaks occur worldwide including Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.
Lassa fever is caused by a single stranded RNA virus (Healing and Gopal, 2001; Johnson et al.,1987). The main feature of this fatal infection is impaired or delayed cellular immunity leading to fulminant viraemia, usually starting as fever of unknown origin (Chen and Cosgriff, 2000). The natural host for the virus are multimammate rats (Mastomysnatalensis), which breed frequently and are distributed widely throughout West, Central, and East Africa (Healing and Gopal, 2001). Both zoonotic and human to human contacts are possible (Ogbu, Ajuluchukwu and Uneke, 2007).
Population movements, poor sanitation, overcrowding, inadequate resources to manage victims and poor epidemic preparedness are some of the factors contributing to disease outbreak (WHO,2000). Increasing international travel and the possibility of use of the Lassa virus as a biological weapon may have escalate the potential for harm beyond the local level, and stressed the need for greater understanding of Lassa fever and more effective control and treatment programs. Osun State is geographically close to Edo State that has persistently been having the highest number of both suspected and confirmed cases of LF in Nigeria in past years (NCDC,2012). With the symptoms of LF mimicking that of malaria which is endemic in Nigeria, the potential of missing the diagnosis of LF is high. Primary care workers in both public and private clinics are often the first set of personnel to handle suspected cases of Lassa fever which is also a possible source of nosocomial infection. In situation where health workers are not adequately equipped with requisite knowledge and materials to handle cases of LF, transmission and outbreak of the infection is likely. This informed the choice of Primary Health Care (PHC) workers as respondents in this study.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Though some studies have reported a fairly good knowledge of health workers about LF, many of such studies had health care workers from highly specialized health facilities as their respondents, with attitude to preventive measures still described as poor (Ajayi et al.,2013). This is happening in the midst of poor practice of universal precaution among Nigeria health workers (Kermode et al., 2005), though practice of universal precaution had improved over the years (Amoran and Onwube, 2013). This study assessed knowledge, attitude and perceptionof Lassa fever among people attending primary health care in Osun State in Southwestern Nigeria.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general objective of this research work is to assess the knowledge, attitude and perception of Lassa fever among people attending primary health care in Osun State in South-western Nigeria. The specific objectives are as follows;
- To assess the knowledge of Lassa fever among people attending PHC in Osun State
- To assess the attitude and perception of Lassa fever among people attending PHC in Osun State
- To assess the association of knowledge, attitude and perception with socio-demographics of respondents
- To identify causes, symptoms and consequences of Lassa fever in Osun State
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated based on the objectives of this research project.
- What is the level of the knowledge of Lassa fever among people attending PHC in Osun State?
- What is the attitude and perception of Lassa fever among people attending PHC in Osun State?
- Is there any association of knowledge, attitude and perception with socio-demographics of respondents?
- What are the causes, symptoms and consequences of Lassa fever in Osun State?
1.5 Scope of Study
This research project assessed knowledge, attitude and perceptionof Lassa fever among people attending primary health care, using the Osun State in South-western Nigeria. Hence this research project is limited to Osun State in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of Study
This research project will be of immense benefit to communities and health sector shareholders who are involved in policy decisions in the academia. The research project will have relevance to policies and major decisions made with regards the health sector.
Also this work will serve as a reference to the works of future researchers who might be interested in studying this subject matter.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Lassa Fever: an acute and often fatal viral disease, with fever, occurring chiefly in West Africa. It is usually acquired from infected rats.
Knowledge: is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.
Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
1.8 Limitations of Study
This research project was limited by certain factors such as time, finances, uncooperative attitude of some of the respondents etc. These constituted limitations in this study as some of the respondents did not return their questionnaire. The researcher only made do with responses of the respondents whose questionnaire were correctly completed and returned.
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